Three-plus years on from the explosion, it feels like the expectation for a rebirth in Beirut is wavering. There are signs from the early days. Perhaps they are still current, it is hard to know. What is evident is that the restoration pace has slowed. What was initially spent for everyone seems to be focused on those that already have.
One project that is easy to fall in love with is the traffic lights. Currently, traffic lights and surveillance cameras are not common. With poor services from many community pillars such as local government, banks, and police, it should not be surprising that it is uncommon to see a traffic light. There are an exceptional few. And yet, the drivers have, in general, found a balance that often works. There is a give-and-take that occurs. Honking is the exception. Life goes on.
It might sound from my descriptions that I see failure. On the contrary. I see the scars that came from overwhelming destruction. I see people weary from the struggle. I see the need for strong, resilient, and trustworthy leadership. I feel I have been part of a scene described centuries ago; “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs.” (Romans 8.22)
This is a time for hope. If it does not come individually, we will never experience it as a community. When one embraces hope, it infectiously touches others. With hope, courage shows up, patience grows, and kindness comes out of hiding.
This is a time for kindness. It is easy to think that my pains and struggles are the worst. The natural ask is for attention and sympathy. Ironically, I find that in being kind to others, I gift myself with compassion and love which in turn puts my pain and struggles in their place.
I expect a better future. Today, I will take a step towards it.